So I first played this game back in 2012, which by then already made it an older game, but even if I’d played it today I still feel I’d have enjoyed it. It is by no means perfect but even though it was relatively brief, it was nonetheless a rich piece of gaming that I would recommend to anyone, especially lovers of the visual novel.
Before I get started properly, I’ll share a little background information, this game was written and designed by Christine Love, a Canadian indie writer and game designer, who often deals with or touches on issues regarding sexuality, gender, and people and their relationships with or via technology. This was not the first game that she designed/wrote but it was the first game of hers that had some mainstream success, and if you play it you’ll see why people were drawn to it. Digital: A Love Story follows the protagonist (named by the player), Five minute into the future of 1988’ as they develop a relationship with a girl called ‘Emilia’ and slowly explore the early online world that existed during the period in question. There is more I could say in regards to a synopsis but even though the game is roughly nine years old I still don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll leave it at that and carry on with the rest of the review.
So I touched on this above but this game was fairly concise, due in part to the linear storyline, where choices don’t impact the plot in any significant fashion, while this is a departure from most visual novels, especially my favourites which are known for branching storylines and relationship choices, there is something to be said for a just getting swept away in the story without worrying unduly about player choice and interactivity. You do get swept away, I can’t overstate how quickly you can become immersed in the story, while it was mitigated somewhat by a sense of nostalgia for the history of computers and networking, i.ie dialing into BBS systems and that modem noise that sounds like the phone line is screaming, I did find that entering the numbers and texts got a little repetitive and irksome but overall it was a small dislike in a game that just thoroughly wowed me.
It managed that not just with the story, which I’ll talk more about shortly but also with the detail and the accuracy that went into the framework for the game, as I said above it elicited a palpable nostalgia, and it looked and felt real, just like I remembered. I said above that the game is linear, and while that might be off putting to some players, it allows you to experience the deeply engaging story written by Christine Love, which has hacking and a family of Artificial Intelligences, it’s riveting and well worth playing. What I didn’t expect when I started playing it was the feeling I got after it was done, how caught off guard I was by the emotional finale, and it all happened over some message boards, with characters that should have been hollow but felt real, and perhaps it was in part because you spent time talking with them, critiquing their poetry but those characters, or one character in particular if I’m being honest left a lasting impression.
All in all, Digital: A Love Story is a fantastic game, and well worth being the game that started to net Christine Love the attention and support she deserves, because she managed to create a game that was compact, well written (I mean the message board/forum stuff was just so real) and surprising that I would happily play it again and again, and it’s why I happily recommend that you play it for yourself, which you can get for yourself by following this link, where it’s available on Windows, Mac and Linux. Lastly before we round things off, I was lucky enough to get an Interview with Christine Love which you can check out here, and that as they say is all folks!
First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org
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